Thursday, 18 January 2018

Iresha in Devinuwara

28th December
Planting trees then visiting Iresha in a fishing village.
Iresha once lived in Anula Wijerama Girls' Home where I spent my gap year teaching English.
Now she lives close to the sea and has two daughters. Her husband is a fisherman.

 This fisherman took us on a little ride into the bay by the lighthouse to show us the big fish.

The boys and girls in the neighbourhood took me for a walk - we clambered over rocks and bathed in rock pools, caught baby fish.
The boys wanted to keep the fish and take them home.
They are very resourceful - the check nice looking, cosmetic plastic tubes for contents worth taking home and they use a scrap of old netting to catch fish and old bottles for storing them. Plastic is just another resource and it seems like it is part of nature for them. I suppose it has always been part of their environment as they grew up. Fish/bottles/fruit - all there to be used and thrown away when you are finished with them.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Planting beach trees

Bio-conservation Society Projects 

28th December: a project to get locals of Mahapelena interested in and involved with conservation. At least 50 people turned up and we planted Pandanas trees that grow here naturally. Normally, they line beaches with thick vegetation. Their roots grow straight down deeply and provide sheltered nesting sites for turtles. This vegetation protects the beach from erosion and reduces the impact of tsunamis - an event that is imprinted on the minds of everyone in this community where people lost everything, including their whole families. They were enthusiastic and even helped spontaneously to clean the beach, gathering a huge pile of plastic .... to burn  :( There is, unfortunately, no system in place to collect and dispose of rubbish.
Everyone loved getting their shopping bags and pomegranate plants.
My girls, Asanka, Ruwini and the twins, Nirosha and Nadeeka joined us along with their children so we had lots of fun with the waves afterwards.

From the cloud forests to the south coast

27th December: a looong journey south. I met another of the girls I used to teach - the wonders of Facebook!!
This is Ruwini. She was once Dorothy in our performance of The Wizard of Oz when I was her English teacher:

This is Ruwini's grandmother. I remember her telling me about visiting her in the holidays - part of a heart-breaking story.

Ruwini' neighbours helped me to find her house - some of these village tracks are not so easy to find with google satellite.
They are reading our leaflet about conservation projects in Sri Lanka and I encourage them to come and plant trees with us tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Deeper into the Knuckles Mountain Forests

Boxing Day

Today, we walked along a paddy field irrigation channel, into the forest, to a huge waterfall (111m high). We were led by a guide who scampered nimbly through the branches and up and down slippery rocks. He attached ropes to help those of us who were less elegant at getting to our destination, a pool gushing with torrents from the waterfall.

Finally, time to cool off in a pool - very refreshing and great fun .... holding on tight to a rope all the time:

Petawala Village in the Knuckles Mountains

Christmas Day

Good friends and ecologists spent the day with me at different sites in the Knuckles mountainous forest reserves.  We visited dry plains and cloud forests. We saw different, endemic lizards, frogs, birds, plants and butterflies.
I have not had wifi since I left home but I will post some things I captured later. 
At the end of our day of discovery, we ambled into this village of paddy fields where water buffalo are still used to plough them.

Long lost friends

Christmas Eve

Half a lifetime ago, I spent one year in Sri Lanka as a voluntary English teacher.
Ruwina was a very good student and after 23 years we met again at her home in Narammala.
Lovely smiling face as always. Thank you Ruwina for a lovely time and delicious lunch. It was so good to see you again.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Outreach event about environmental issues for a youth group in Kalpitiya

On my second day we went to a children's society - a bit like a youth group.  Lalith, a turtle scientist, delivered a talk to raise awareness about environmental issues. The children were enthusiastic and are eager to change things for the better. We distributed shopping bags to help them reduce plastic and planted some pomegranate trees in their gardens as a little reminder to look after nature.